Progress in downtown Cambridge, vacant buildings remain
CAMBRIDGE, Md. – Local business owners say revitalization efforts in Downtown Cambridge are making a big difference but, like any area going through changes, there are still plenty of growing pains.
“I have some customers that come in here and they love the town and they say, ‘what’s holding it back?’ And we’re all trying to figure that out,” says Doug Turner, owner of Downtown Frame of Mind.
Business owners are reacting to the 2019 annual report released by the non-profit Downtown Cambridge. “I think things are looking up. I think things are on their way to improving this area. Let’s hope,” says Turner.
“I think there’s good energy in Cambridge right now,” says Beth Kline, co-owner of The Blue Awning.
There’s no doubt the area has seen a lot of growth over the past year. “We’re getting a better diversity of shops that are coming,” says Kline.
Some shop owners say the public art initiative has made the area more popular. “People are coming in just all over the country. They’ve heard about the mural and they’re learning more about Harriet Tubman,” says Kline.
They’re also applauding the events that take place downtown and bring a lot of foot traffic. “The Second Saturdays are a pretty big hit. They close down Poplar Street sometimes and get somethings going on around here,” says Turner.
But store owners tell 47 ABC, they’d like to see more done with the empty storefronts. “Some of the places that have been vacant for a while, getting those landlords to either be willing to lease the space or sell the space,” says Kline.
Even with all the progress, it’s hard to ignore boarded up windows. “I think there’s some work going on down there, I hope, because it’s an eyesore right now,” says Turner.
According to Downtown Cambridge, “Cambridge Main Street is currently supporting four buildings with the awarded funds. Funding will support the facade improvements at 421 and 440 Race Street as well as some interior work at 440 Race Street. Additionally architecturals are complete for a facelift at 440 Race Street and are also underway at 444-448 Race Street which was the victim of a fire over 10 years ago.”
Officials are looking to hire an Events and Promotions Coordinator so that they can continue with their monthly events. Local business owners also say they’re excited for the renovation of the old Phillips Packing house into a multi use space, with the hope that it will bring even more people to the city.